Sweet Girl

Vampire Owl: I remember having met a sweet witch.

Vampire Bat: I do not remember any witch being sweet at all.

Vampire Owl: He had some of the sweetest magic potions.

Vampire Bat: You shouldn’t buy potions without approval of Vampire Senate.

Vampire Owl: I have paid all the taxes along with the price.

Vampire Bat: You will still have to pay the import duty.

Vampire Owl: But we belong to the same realm.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but not the same territory.

Vampire Owl: Now, we are having taxes like humans?

Vampire Bat: It is still very much less in comparison to some of the nations in the world of evil humans.

[Gets a raspberry cake and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ray Cooper (Jason Momoa) jumps off the top of a building while being chased by the police, and it is followed by a flashback. His wife Amanda Cooper (Adria Arjona) gets really ill with a rare form of cancer. The survival expert, Ray hopes that he can do all that is possible to save her. But it is soon revealed that the life-saving drug called Infirmam was taken off the market due to Bio Prime CEO Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha) paying the manufacturers to delay the production. This also means that there was going to be an indefinite delay, and Amanda doesn’t have that much time. He watches congress woman Diana Morgan (Amy Brenneman) going through a live devate with Simon, and there he seems to be talking about much their company is dedicated to saving lives at less cost, and on how much they have sacrificed in the form of money and time. He makes a call to the live debate, and as Simon doesn’t seem to care that much about bringing the drug back to the market, Ray threatens to kill him if his wife dies because of this negligence.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon enough, Amanda dies, and Ray is left with his daughter Rachel Cooper (Isabela Merced) to go on with the pain and grief. A few months later, Ray gets a call from a journalist Martin Bennett (Nelson Franklin) who claims that he possesses evidence related to the unethical practices and criminal activities on the side of Bio Prime. They meet on a moving train, but a hitman Amo Santos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) attacks them, killing the journalist and stabbing Ray. Rachel who had followed them also gets knocked out in the process. Even though further investigations reveal nothing about what had happened with Bio Prime or in the train, and with no information about the hitman who attacked them, Ray still continues to track Simon and his company. He manages to sneak into a charity programme and interrogate Simon, only to be attached by the bodyguards whom he manages to kill along with his gaurds. The only other responsible name that he gets is that of the chairman of the same company, Vinod Shah (Raza Jaffrey). FBI Agent Sarah Meeker (Lex Scott Davis) is in charge of the case.

And how far can this go as we keep moving forward? :: Ray and Rachel go on a long ride through less taken roads, trying to get away before the police officers or the assassins get to them. Rachel tries calling Sarah, hoping that she will look into Bio Prime before her father comes up with something terrible again. Sarah is able to get the trust of Rachel like a mother figure. Meanwhile, they are attacked by mercenaries who seems to have found them much to their surprise. Ray fights them and after a small fight, ends up killing them too. At the same time, the same hitman who had attacked them on the train is after them too. Their only option here seems to be to find Vinod and hope that it ends with them. But Santos has other ideas about it, and Vinod knowing anything more than what Simon knew seems not possible at all. How far does all these secrets go? Who might be the last link behind all of these? Will the father and daughter duo survive against what they seem to be completely incapable of handling? Is there a thing like hope for them?

The defence of Sweet Girl :: Jason Momoa is here doing what he does the best, without the superpowers of Aquaman and outside the team of Justice League. Isabela Merced has a point as the daughter figure. She plays a character who is more matured than anyone else of her age, and has her own ideology. This is also one strong character that she can happy that she played. The twist also works like a dream for her, and she rises above everyone else with ease here. She does remind one of Chloe Grace Moretz, like someone who could rise above the senior stars when provided with an opportunity. Then there is Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as the hitman and Amy Brenneman as the congress woman who are all doing what they do the best. The action sequences are all good, and both the father and daughter do their job well. The twist basically comes a shock, even though there were some red herrings here and there – that should work for most people. The movie, just like it begins well, ends without overdoing it, but being mostly satisfactory.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been quicker here, as there is a lot action to be done. The twist in question here doesn’t seem to be that effective for everyone, as the willing suspension of disbelief might have its problems with how the action sequences have been going on here. It does take a little too much time to get to the twist, which should have been revealed earlier for the audience to adjust to the whole new situation it had created. The loopholes are surely there, especially in the second half of the movie. The movie does seem to be confused about how to respect the genre, and the world it had built earlier. The feeling of half-bakedness does bring some trouble. There was the chance to come up with better dialogues and better emotional moments too – the emotions are there, but with the twist, some emotions feel as if they didn’t exist at all. With that particular twist, it also feels that some of the length of this movie was for no reason, as a number of things didn’t happen as it was shown.

How it finishes :: Sweet Girl is more of less the movie that can go in the path of Hitman, Transporter, John Wick, Mechanic, Accountant, Equalizer, Kate and others while having its main lead going through the impossible to reach the other end. It would require a sequel for that, as it had that twist which changed things a little too much. There will be opinions against this one for sure, as the twist would take away something which the fans would have wanted in the climax, but the film did require something divergent to set a path different from the usual movies dealing with this kind of thing – you can’t just complain for taking the risk and bringing more to ponder about. With lots of action around, a few things can be forgotten, and others can be appreciated – what is to loved and hated might still be different for different types of people. I would be asking people to watch this one without looking at the spoilers and come with your opinion. We are never really less in need of action thriller with a huge mission in hand, right?

Release date: 20th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Brian Andrew Mendoza
Starring: Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Adria Arjona, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Amy Brenneman, Raza Jaffrey, Justin Bartha, Lex Scott Davis, Michael Raymond-James

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Heaven

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Uncle Dracula is going to heaven?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have a different afterlife.

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t know before death, but there would surely be blood.

Vampire Owl: Well, as long as there is blood, I am okay with it.

Vampire Bat: You don’t really take the blood substitute anymore?

Vampire Owl: Until Doctor Frankenstein invents the perfect substitute, I won’t.

Vampire Bat: Then, be assured that it will a long wait, because that pseudo-doctor and scientist with fake degree is involved.

[Gets a paneer puffs and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A group of NCC cadets discover a dead body in the forest area where they were camping for the holidays from their school. The first police officer to the scene is Bijoy Kuruvilla (Sudev Nair), and the dead person is identified to be Fabian John (Deepak Parambol), with the help of the forensic experts who are led by Narayana Swami (Joy Mathew). According to the descriptions from the witnesses and circumstancial evidences, the police discover the murderer to be none other than Peter Kurishingal (Suraj Venjaramoodu), another police officer. Then, the movie gets a flashback when Peter is in charge of a police station in a village. He had only recently lost his wife, and has a number of cases for investigation, which he takes very seriously so that he can use them to forget the grief of loss. His mother Mariyam Kurisingal (Vinaya Prasad) takes care of his only son, as he remains mostly busy as a strict police officer. But things get worse as he comes up against a case which would prove to be personal for him, as a family is murdered, and along with them, he also find his son’s dead body, much to his shock.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Peter’s subordinate Sukumara Pillai (Alencier Ley Lopez) is posted in the case with the new officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Kishore (Padmaraj Ratheesh) who seems to be solving the case rather quickly, and a man named Stephen (Jaffar Idukki) confesses to have committed the crime with an immigrant labourer from West Bengal, as part of an attempted robbery. Peter has his doubts, but as one of the victims is his son, his superior officer Revathi Subramaniam (Abhija Sivakala) declines him an opportunity to be part of the investigation team, but lets him have a look at it as part of a parallel investigation for which he would be solely responsible. Soon, he discovers that the man who is accused of murder, Stephen actually had nothing to do with it. This home named Heaven, where the murders took place, seem to have more than one secrets to be discovered. His discoveries soon lead to him taking over the case after joining back on duty. But it remains to be seen if he will like what he would discover.

The defence of Heaven :: Here is one more addition to the smart thrillers of our times with some fine red herrings. The investigation shown in the movie feels solid, and so does the emotional side. The movie achieves its motives without exaggerating anything at any moment. There are twists till the end of the movie, and we see that it has nicely solved the puzzles to come strong in the end with enough strength. The realistic mode is maintained while bringing up the thrills and twists, and it surely feels like something which could happen during these days when different crimes are part of the news more than ever. Even the police procedures seem to be much accurate, and it doesn’t seem to venture into those areas where the smartness of the audience is questioned; maybe it is because the film chooses to have no such superstars who have so many fans wishing for their favourite actor to destroy evil like a fallen angel. Well, this movie is also something with fallen angels, but it knows how to keep it realistic. This is the kind of film that can teach valuable lessons for Bollywood which has its non-performers coming out of nepotism, not able to emote.

The positives and negatives :: The visuals are really good, and the camera is particularly good in capturing the emotions of Suraj Venjaramoodu, with all the grief which is part of the character’s life. The moments after the son’s death is as emotional as it can get, and it is only matched by the determination in his face that comes up later. There are the inner and outer battle shown here are with their own relevance. Heaven does not hesitate in going through the emotional path of the police officer and his investigation, just like it was seen in the movie Memories which had that abiding sadness in it which would return to haunt the viewer. The movie could have actually focused on the darker side even more. The return to the initial moments come rather too late, and due to the same, people might have actually forgotten the events which had happened earlier. The movie does slow down after the deaths and following emotional troubles, and it could have used a serial killer instead of the usual vengeance ideas being repeated. The music doesn’t feel as that great in comparison to some of the other thrillers which dealt with similar themes.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu handles the regretful cop role really well, and it reminds us of his earlier movie Pathaam Valavu, where he had also lost his child. The helpless and lack of hope can be seen on one side, while there is smartness on the other. He is the police officer and father to remember. The emotional struggle which was best displayed in Kaanekkaane, and added with mass in Jana Gana Mana and Driving License works really well here too, as he is indeed one of the best actors to go through a strong emotional side. The biggest support to him is provided by Alencier Ley Lopez who makes a fine cop in a supporting role; I had felt that John Luther could have really used him as a police officer too. The actors like Sudheesh and Jaffer Idukki add more of an emotional side to the film with their shorter presence. Vinaya Prasad also has the emotional grandmother role. Padmaraj Ratheesh and Sudev Nair also makes some fine police officers. Abhija Sivakala as the superior police officer is also solid. Deepak Parambol’s as well Nimisha Sajayan’s smaller roles are effective too. The collection of performers here makes sure that there is something interesting about all of them.

How it finishes :: Heaven gets into the list of interesting thrillers including the recently released Twenty One Grams and Solamante Theneechakal, as well as many others which came earlier. After all, the thrillers of this world mean more than just Drishyam. The movie working a lot better than the heavily hyped movies like CBI 5: The Brain is a reminder that we have some new names who can do the same thing better. Well, this is the kind of film which can never work for Bollywood as the sons and daughters of superstars would not agree to act in movies which cannot progress without throwing hundreds of villains around. Movies like this should open their eyes to the idea that there is the need for more thinking differently, or the drought in Bollywood of blockbusters is going to continue forever. Bollywood’s fight with its own incompetence might be forever, but during those times, Malayalam movie industry, just like the other South Indian film industries, is coming up with some fine works of quality which are to be remembered.

Release date: 19th August 2022 (Hotstar); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Unni Govindraj
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Sudev Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheesh, Joy Mathew, Alencier Ley Lopez, Jaffer Idukki, Vinaya Prasad, Abhija Sivakala, Deepak Parambol

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Makal

Vampire Owl: I feel that this refers to the daughters of darkness.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula refers to to the children of darkness, but they are different.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that darkness can have many undead children.

Vampire Bat: Yet, most of them are also the children of chaos.

Vampire Owl: You just cannot have such children roaming around.

Vampire Bat: The witches would not mind that.

Vampire Owl: They wouldn’t, while looking for some special ingredients for potions.

Vampire Bat: It has somewhat gone out of fashion, especially after the hunters started targeting the lesser witches of the woods.

Vampire Owl: The witches will still maintain most of their features.

Vampire Bat: The future of witches is yet to be finalized.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Juliet (Meera Jasmine) lives with her daughter Aparna (Devika Sanjay) who is studying in plus two, and preparing for medical entrance. Aparna’s father Nandakumar (Jayaram) had been working as a mechanic in the Middle East for a long time, and finally returns to Kerala after losing his job. As Nandakumar and Juliet comes from different religious, social and economic backgrounds, there is more complication here. He starts a food processing unit with the name Pravasi Food Products which gains some initial success. But it seems that the products need more publicity, as sales in the supermarkets stay at an all-time low, and he is forced to find some other methods for support. Meanwhile, Rohit (Naslen K Gafoor) keeps trying to get closer to Aparna. He even becomes a part of Nandakumar’s factory in the disguise of a migrant worker from West Bengal. He keeps trying to make an impression upon Nandakumar until finally getting caught. Nandakumar and Aparna go through regular arguments related to her dog being inside the house, the problem reaching its highest point when the dog goes missing.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: When Juliet finally gets a government job in Wayanad, things get more complicated. There is the generation gap which is always present, and misunderstandings also exist. Aparna driving the car without a license becomes another common reason for fights. Even Nandakumar doesn’t have an Indian license, and he doesn’t like the car as it was given by Juliet’s family. He also feels tha Aparna is getting too close to her male friends. Meanwhile, Juliet arranges her stay with her co-worker Fathima (Dayyana Hameed), and is not able to take off on weekends to go home and meet her husband and daughter. Premlal (Kottayam Ramesh), the superior officer at the collectorate where she works is not ready to provide any relief to the employees. It is then that something strange happens in their life, as an unknown person also becomes part of their life – coming from Karnataka, Garuda Naik (Balaji Manohar) is a man of mystery. This would change their perspective about father-daughter relationship. But will that come a little too late for their liking?

The defence of Makal :: This family drama moves forward with a touch of humour, which seems to work very well with the audience for whom it is intended. The messages for the families related to parenting and family attachment are always there, as one would expect from this kind of a movie. Most of the struggles shown here feels very much real, and the problems with a new generation of teenagers are portrayed close to reality. It shows how difficult it is to take care of the new generation of such teenagers who rarely listen to their parents, despite seemingly staying with them and using their money for what seems to be forever. As this kind of movies are not easy to find among the categories these days, it is good to see this one coming back too. The emotional sequences are mostly working, and the credit to the same goes to a certain amount of nostalgia that goes towards the past. These are the kind of movies which takes us into the past, and places that world in the contemporary world, and we remember the values which are rarely present during these days when there is a new generation descending into chaos – it can be lamented, while the feel-good factor of this film is strong.

The claws of flaw :: There are many unnecessary sequences in the movie which makes one feel that they lose the focus on regular intervals. With better focus, some of the dialogues and situations wouldn’t have found light in relation to this particular movie, which had the potential for much more. The feeling of being outdated is also there at times. The major twist which happens in the movie is indeed the strangest addition which feels rather unwanted, and a movie which was going the realistic path seems to struggle in finding some realism from that moment. Before the incident, there were also the repetitions which never hesitate to appear out of nowhere. One would feel that some characters should have had more purpose around here. Some moments just gets added to bring more humour in here. Even the main characters seem to be irritating at times, but considering how the real-life people go about, blaming them for being so feels rather difficult. The small romantic angle added here seems to serve nothing other than some humour and a little bit more of emotions, even though all of these were already there.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram has been having some skill in maintaining this kind of family-oriented films, and that quality is still here, even though the world has changed a little too much from those early times. The fatherly figure has suited him very well for some time now. Meera Jasmine makes her return to Malayalam cinema industry as a grand one, as she is the leading lady again, maybe marking a permanent stay around here. Devika Sanjay who was earlier seen in Njan Prakashan is the one person whom we notice more than anyone else, as she once again scores in playing the teenager with the usual problems which are reflective of the new generation. Naslen K Gafoor of Thanneer Mathan Dinangal and Kuruthi kind of variety and most recently seen in Jo and Jo, has much less to do, but still adds to the humour really well – still, this is a character with minimal impact on the tale. Sreenivasan makes a notable, but less influential appearance here too. Innocent and Siddique remain strong as the veterans. The smaller roles of Nilja K Baby and Dayyana Hameed would also be remembered, and the two are surely going to make it big sooner or later.

How it finishes :: It is clear that the audience intended for this particular movie are the groups which come to the theatre as families. For the other audience, this would seem like something which they have already seen. The movie released on the OTT platform much later than the other, and it comes as a surprise as it could have easily grabbed more viewers with an earlier release. It is late by at least two months, and such a delay would have been heart-breaking for the fans of Meera Jasmine waiting to see her return. We have known what Sathyan Anthikad movies have been capable of, and not much change has come across them. We can still feel the absence of some common names which were part of the cast in his most films, some of them not alive anymore and others not being there for some reason. Well, the 1980s and 1990s were the classic ages of the director, and it is clear that he still have the power of the same family values to be brought to the audience. One can accept them or choose to reject, but these works which has the minimum guarantee are not to be avoided. Most of our parents would always prefer to watch movies like this one.

Release date: 18th August 2022 (Manorama MAX); 29th April 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Jayaram, Meera Jasmine, Siddique, Sreenivasan, Innocent, Devika Sanjay, Dayyana Hameed, Naslen K Gafoor, Meera Nair, Sreedhanya, Balaji Manohar, Jayashankar Karimuttam, Nilja K Baby, Althaf Salim, Sreelatha Namboothiri, Kottayam Ramesh, Krishna Praba, Mani Shornur, Salim Hasan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Prakashan Parakkatte

Vampire Owl: I think that they are trying to make the light spread.

Vampire Bat: You are misunderstanding the title.

Vampire Owl: So, humans are no longer spreading the light.

Vampire Bat: They had stopped living in the light a long time ago.

Vampire Owl: You mean living in goodness.

Vampire Bat: Goodness has not graced humans for such a long time.

Vampire Owl: Well, I have always known that humans fall easily.

Vampire Bat: When they fall, they end up very deep.

Vampire Owl: I would say they would go as deep as hellfire.

Vampire Bat: There is no fire that could burn a fried evil human.

[Gets a Little Hearts biscuit and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Das (Mathew Thomas) is a plus two student who is not interested in studies, and spends time in other activities, leading to him missing classes regularly. He lives with his parents Prakashan (Dileesh Pothan) and Latha (Nisha Sarang) as well as his younger brother Akhil (Ritunjay Sreejith). Das’ best friend is Anwar (Govid Pai) who joins him in bunking class, a process which is repeated on almost all days. They often go to the local town of Mukkom and the city of Calicut without anyone noticing. Nobody believes that any of the two friends will pass the plus two exam, and even the headmaster is not bothered about them leaving the class too early, and encourages them to leave without bothering other students. Das also falls in love with another plus two student, Neethu (Malavika Manoj), but the problem seems that she belongs to a rich family which owns the bus which travels in the same route. She also studies in a private girls’ school, which bothers him. To get close to her, he also joins the tuition centre of Suni (Dhyan Sreenivasan) where Neethu also studies.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Prakashan owns a grocery shop in the village which is not that much of a profitable enterprise, but as there are not many similar shops nearby, things don’t get that bad for them. His brother-in-law Kuttan (Saiju Kurup) spends his time wasting all the money which is earned from the shop. He is also a youtuber who has a group of people who calls themselves vloggers, but are nuisance to the locals. It is then that things get more difficult, as according to the local leader Raghavan (Sreejith Ravi) warned him earlier, Musthafa (Aju Varghese) starts Madheena supermarket near the grocery shop. Kuttan also supports Musthafa, who is his childhood friend, and the supermarket becomes a grand success. It is then that Akhil meets with an accident, and Das is blamed for the same for his reckless behaviour, especially by Latha who had always preferred her younger son over the elder one. As Akhil requires a surgery and further care, Latha is further angry at Das. Prakshan is forced to take loans from different people as there is the emergency. This turns their lives upside down, with an uncertain future.

The defence of Prakashan Parakkatte :: The movie is set up nicely to bring a tale of the common people who have their own struggles within the family. It never ceases to make one feel like it is a realistic world of simple things. The setting is really good, and there are the usual kind of people which we see around. The movie’s emotional side remains relatable and the struggles feel very much real. The truth about the youtubers who do no constructive things in life is also brought to life here in opposition to people who work hard and still can’t have enough to keep their family going. People who are looking for easy money and their spreading the curse through videos can be seen here. The visuals of this particular world nicely contributes to the overall movie, as the highlands have never really ceased being beautiful in Malayalam movies which explores the common man’s lives and struggles. The songs are good, and the one depicting plus two romance stands stronger. The cast is a really good one, and we can only love these performers going through the realistic mode.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing new that the movie tries to bring around here. The formula has already been tested and approved, and there is no special ingredient to elevate the level of the film. Sometimes, the movie just seems to move forward without an idea about where it is heading – the direction should have been better planned here. Some of the emotional sides also feel overdone, and predictability is rather high. The ending doesn’t end the movie, but brings a continuation which seems to reflect the usual world. It could have chosen many different paths to reach the final destination, but here we see the safe path being taken instead. Taking risk doesn’t seem to be this movie’s cup of tea. The trailer and the choice of actors and actresses seemed to point to something bigger, but that much is not achieved here. There was the chance for bringing more humour here too, but without enough focus, it is not achieved. Sometimes, one does wonder what exactly the plan is. It could have added more feel-good elements, which had many opportunities to come to the scene – after all plus two life in school also becomes reflection of more opportunities.

The performers of the soul :: Mathew Thomas who had some fantastic performances in Kumbalangi Nights, Thanneer Mathan Dinangal and Jo and Jo has another work to remember here. He has always stood one step ahead of the other actors of his age. Govind V Pai of Parava fame is the one who supports him this time instead of Naslen K Gafoor who has aged a little too much to get back to his plus two avatar, and should be looking for the college roles or the elder brother roles to Mathew and Govind. Dhyan Sreenivasan plays the kind of role which Vineeth Sreenivasan had played with Mathew years ago, and this time, it is a cameo. Dileesh Pothan shines in the father role here, and the director turned actor is indeed the best choice for a role like this. Nisha Sarang of Uppum Mulakum fame joins and suits the role really well. Malavika Manoj is good addition to the role here, and she surely has a fine future ahead – she can join the new group of actresses like Mamitha Baiju and Anaswara Rajan who have had some strong presence early enough. Saiju Kurup nicely plays the typical new generation youtuber who tries the easy path without any hard work.

How it finishes :: Prakashan Parakkatte works just like those nice little feel-good movies following the trend which started with new life in Maheshinte Prathikaaram. The movie also serves as a coming-of-age story, the bildungsroman which works with the first half of life if we consider Premam as the one typical story in Malayalam film industry. The final message about money not being that important in life comes a little bit too late, and it is the kind of revelation which won’t work with people of this age where how much one earns and has in the bank account is considered to be the most significant thing, without which there is no life. One would wonder if the message of being a good person considered more important than money will work in this particular age when society depends on what lies in the bank account. But the movie attempts to provide that message and hope that thing will come together well. In the process, this becomes the usual movie with the common family problems, while being in control of the emotional side.

Release date: 29th July 2022 (ZEE 5); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Shahad Nilambur
Starring: Mathew Thomas, Dileesh Pothan, Malavika Manoj, Nisha Sarang, Govid Pai, Saiju Kurup, Aju Varghese, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Sreejith Ravi, Ritunjay Sreejith, Nithin Sabu, Stevin Bijum

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jo and Jo

Vampire Owl: The movie seems to have gathered some extra attention.

Vampire Bat: Some movies always get some unexpected attention.

Vampire Owl: Most of them also get the unwanted.

Vampire Bat: Well, there are many unwanted movies.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about the movies with so called superstars.

Vampire Bat: Yes, in comparison, this one is capable of more.

Vampire Owl: Yet funny movies mostly get more ratings than they should.

Vampire Bat: Let us not think about comedy right now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that these are bad times.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there are never good times when humans are involved.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Jomon Baby (Mathew Thomas) and Jomol Baby (Nikhila Vimal) are the two children of Baby Palathara (Johny Antony) and Lillykutty Baby (Sminu Sijo). Both the children do not like each other, and fights continuously, sometimes without any reason at all. Manoj Sundaran (Naslen K Gafoor) and Ebey Kuruvilla (Melvin G Babu) are Jomon’s best friends, and the former also has a crush for Jomol. Baby is an understanding father even though both of his children are more irritating than anything he had known before, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down days. Baby doesn’t have that much of a work because these are the corona times, and Lillykutty is not happy about her children being rebellious against her. Jomol is not happy and often violent for no reason because she feels that Lillykutty likes Jomon more as he is the younger one and male. Jomon is a very irresponsible student and son, whose only contribution towards home is the one fish that he gets once in a bluemoon while trying fishing with his friends.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Member Shibu (Binu Adimaly) is consistently trying to get Jomol married to someone who is settled outside India, especially because Lillykutty wants to see Canada, United States of America, United Kingdom or similar countries after she settles down there – Jomol is very hostile about that idea as she is not the kind of person who wishes to leave her comfort zone. One day, Jomon finds a letter seemingly of romance, addressed to a person named Jo, and also a green motor-bike leaving the area. He feels that Jomol is having an affair, and throws the letter away. He feels that she will leave them all, and go with a stranger on a motor-bike. Jomol who picks up the letter later, finds the writings for someone named Jo, and feels that Jomon is having a romantic affair at this age, which means that the girl would most probably be below eighteen, and therefore it is an illegal affair. Jomol decides to take the help of their grandmother to find out the truth, while Jomon is helped by his friends, especially Manoj who is heart-broken about his crush having an affair. What would actually be the truth?

The defence of Jo and Jo :: When we look at Jo and Jo, some people might find it perfect to relate, especially the kind of new generation that is not ready to give their elder sister the deserving respect, and spends their time playing nonsensical games when not wandering around with friends for smoking or drinking alcohol. The film is a fine representation of such a generation, and also that of a new generation of elder sisters who fail to take responsibility of the younger brother – in that case, the boys who serve more as friends are surely better. Still, it does feels that the new generation is gone beyond repair, thanks to the mobile and internet addiction brought to everyone by Reliance through Jio and schools through the online classes in the time of COIVD-19 lock-downs. The film clearly shows that the future is lost with a new generation coming up from online schooling. The humour which has been used for the same is somewhat working, and those who are able to relate to these might find the proceedings to be even better.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much in Jo and Jo that you have not witnessed before in different forms in a few movies and some homes, even though there is the exaggeration. Sometimes, this idea of exaggerating is a little too much. The problem that the main character has with his bowels is made fun of in a miserable manner, and those are not really fit to get anywhere near quality jokes. When making a family movie, one also has to make sure about the language. There are strengths being displayed in this movie, but they don’t get the required focus. A better awareness about the genre was required here. One actor who should have been used more is Sagar Surya of the Thatteem Mutteem fame. The moments related to corona could have also been more fun – a lot of innovations could have been used there too. After all, there is more about corona virus than what is reported in the news; you just need to look a little more for inspiration. For a movie dealing with simple things, it feels a little long, and also has some irritating moments. The feel-good factor just goes missing, and there is almost no good thing about family here.

The performers of the soul :: Mathew Thomas who set the ball rolling with Kumbalangi Nights and Thanneer Mathan Dinangal, continues his good form around here too, even though that much of power cannot be seen around here. The talent is visible at points around here, but not as a whole. Nikhila Vimal who debuted as the lead in Love 24×7 and only recently had different types of performances in The Priest and Madhuram, gets a role which is still much divergent from her previous performances. Yet, sometimes, her character feels overdone, and one would love her the most from that work of grace which was seen in Aravindante Athidhikal. Johny Antony who is known more as the director, earlier seen in Home, has evolved into Ranji Panicker – Lalu Alex mode with ease, and is the one true lovable character in this movie. Naslen K Gafoor who traveled a different path with Kuruthi, does what he has been usually doing with ease. Melvin G Babu is the one who nicely adds to the fun, often better than the bigger names around here. Sagar Surya’s small role is made effective enough too. Sminu Sijo makes a fine mother too.

How it finishes :: It is nice to see that Jo and Jo releasing on Amazon Prime Video less than one month after its theatre release. These are the times when the corona virus is becoming stronger than ever, and crowds should be taken care of, even though political parties and celebrities would care less about common man who is forced to suffer due to the never ending attack of the virus. If it was stronger and better focused, it would have been able to leave an emotional impact or a result of pure fun, but due to it going through everything randomly, it is only a somewhat effective entertainer without an emotional side to be taken further. If it has tried to send a message, there has been failure related to that. The movie can be considered as a random funny movie about happenings in a family during COVID-19 lock-down times, without expecting too much – there is nothing grand here, and no contribution towards the intellect. You can just go through this movie because you wish to see something which could naturally occur in families, with the funny side, avoiding the terrible exaggerations in between – nothing more is granted here.

Release date: 10th June 2022 (Amazon); 13th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Arun D Jose
Starring: Mathew Thomas, Nikhila Vimal, Naslen K Gafoor, Melvin G Babu, Johny Antony, Leena Antony, Sminu Sijo, Sagar Surya, Hareesh Penga, Binu Adimaly, Kalabhavan Shajohn

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lamb

Vampire Owl: I think that they are talking about the Vampire Lamb.

Vampire Bat: A Vampire Lamb from Iceland? That is new.

Vampire Owl: We never had any Vampire Lamb so far?

Vampire Bat: Lambs do not usually go well with the vampires.

Vampire Owl: What about a black lamb with fangs?

Vampire Bat: We already lost the Vampire Wolf to the werewolves. We don’t really need another animal.

Vampire Owl: Wolves belonging to that side of the border. It is not the case of others.

Vampire Bat: You think that every creature other than a wolf would declare allegiance to the vampire kind?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why they wouldn’t do that.

Vampire Bat: Well, what about the reason that they don’t really need that?

[Gets a paneer paratha and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Somewhere in the remote area of Iceland, a strange entity seems to make its way to a barn which is located a long distance from the traces of civilization. With the terrifying climatic situation, things seem to get worse. The owners of the barn, Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Guonason) soon finds one of their pregnant sheep giving birth to a creature with a lamb’s head and human body, along with its other children. The two takes the creature into the house and names her after their dead daughter, Ada. The creature’s biological mother keeps trying to contact her, and as she is later found with the sheep, Maria shoots the mother sheep and buries it in a grave further away. Despite having some nightmares about sheep, Maria takes very good care of Ada. Ingvar’s brother Petur (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) who arrives at the barn witnessing the incident feels that this newly found creature is only an animal, and wishes to get rid of it, to which the couple doesn’t agree at all.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Petur who always had certain love interest with Maria, decides to get rid of Ada for the best interest of everyone in the house, even if other won’t recognize the same. He takes her on a morning walk in the early morning, hoping to shoot her dead and bury the body far away. But he has a change of heart decides to become the uncle-figure to her – Ada also gets along with him really well. But soon, things seems to get different, and something creepy seems to make its way home, which Ada seems to notice. Petur is still fond of Maria, and after drinking a little too much that he should have, makes sexual advances to her, even using the secret that he knows, that she killed Ada’s real mother. She sends him away on the very next day. With only Ada and Ingvar left around there, the strange entity makes its first appearance. What does this creature want, and how can Ingvar and Maria defend against it? What are the secrets that Ada holds here? What fate awaits the couple and their half-sheep child?

The defence of Lamb :: Powered by the performance led by Noomi Rapace who is one of the best actresses of all-time to be part of movies like this, this film can be considered as thriving on the atmosphere on which it builds its pillars. It is indeed a strange movie when we look at it – there is a creature with a lamb’s head and a human body, and it is raised as a child by humans; not the usual kind of story that you keep seeing around. It has a certain horror side, but also an emotional one, all of them being present there, often in an indirect manner. It deals with the strange nature of people, and their lack of understanding of the realities which they face. Providing the feeling of a pastoral world well enough, it provides a certain amount of haunting experience with the slow movement forward too. It wouldn’t have been that easy to work on this material, but with the right cast and the visuals that work perfectly with the atmosphere, the movie manages to march on. It is a reminder that almost everything in life comes at a price.

The claws of flaw :: Lamb is one movie which has decided to go very much divergent, and there is not that much of horror to celebrate it. The film deviates from the general idea about the genre which comes out from movies like The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Ouija, Insidious, Sinister and others which work on a formula which has been tested and appreciated by too many people who have identified themselves as fans of the category. Moving away from the original horror ideas, and leaving less to be scared, this wouldn’t be that much appreciated by such fans. Along with the same, the ending doesn’t bring that huge effect which was expected. The movie could have been better marketed as a drama thriller indeed, as one creature which does so less has its limitations. Also, the movie slows down a little too much for anyone’s liking, and it is only right to feel that the movie could be twenty or thirty minutes short in length. The grief in this movie could have been also more evident.

The performers of the soul :: Noomi Rapace is one actress whom we can always rely on. The Swedish actress might be best remembered by the people in this part of the world for her work in Prometheus, and she is no stranger to playing motherly figures, as we have seen the same in Angel of Mine. She has a similar mother role here, and she is as determined as she was in that movie. As we miss seeing her in Alien Covenant, and as a good number of her movies didn’t come here, we can only be glad to watch this particular performance from her, which deserves the appreciation too. Most of you might still remember her for the Millennium series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Well, as the mother who takes care of her lamb girl child, this is another work which you are going to remember her for. Hilmir Snaer Guonason plays the father figure very well too – after all both parents are part of this lamb love. Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson makes a good contribution in between too.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have similarities to another flick, Sacrifice, with the atmosphere which is seen around. Even though an English movie, it is also set in such a Scandinavian world. The themes of loneliness and depression, as well as a reflection of people who treat their pets as kids also seem to have some say around here. The story seems to have taken something from the Icelandic folklore too, and the one other movie which seems to stay close to this one is The Witch. The film doesn’t use that many dialogues to make its point, and that would mean that even without subtitles, you can understand most part of the flick. The movie surely had the positive opinion of critics, and was selected as the entry from Iceland for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards which took place in Los Angeles in 2022. So, you know that this movie surely has enough to make an impression – it is a mystery set far away from the everyman’s busy world that will have your attention early.

Release date: 24th September 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Valdimar Johannsson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snaer Guonason, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antlers

Vampire Owl: I haven’t seen a more interesting poster in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Horror does need such posters to show divergence in fear.

Vampire Owl: Fear should always be the same, right?

Vampire Bat: Unless you are a vampire, or maybe zombie.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about a different smell of fear.

Vampire Bat: You should be aware of the fear potions of the witches.

Vampire Owl: Those potions never really work.

Vampire Bat: I know that you trust the pseudo-scientific elixirs of Mr Frankenstein better.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has opened portals with elixirs.

Vampire Bat: Those were ancient portals found hidden in the caves beneath the castle!

[Gets a red velvet cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, there is a warning that Mother Earth has been pillaged, with her life’s blood taken away, and this terrible act has awakened a spirit which needs to be feared – it would seek the lost, frail and the depraved, and asks the viewers to hope and pray that it won’t take one among them. The scene cuts to Cispus Falls, a small town in Oregon which feels dark with an eerie feeling. There, in an inactive mine, Frank Weaver (Scott Haze) runs a meth lab within an inactive mine which used to serve the town’s economy a long time ago. Frank and his co-worker hears some strange noises from within the mine, and goes on to check the same. As they doubt that it is an animal and tries to escape, find themselves attacked by an unseen creature. Frank’s son Aiden Weaver (Sawyer Jones) waits for him outside the mine, failing to understand what has happened inside. His elder brother as Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T Thomas) is considered to be strange by his classmates and teachers, but Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) who teaches about myths and fables is determined to help him.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Julia remembers the abuse she suffered as a child in the hands of her alcoholic father who was also mentally ill – she feels that he is also suffering from something similar. Paul Meadows (Jesse Plemons), her brother is the local sheriff – she had abandoned him a long time ago, but has now returned home from California following the death of their father. She feels that she shouldn’t have left the place, and tries to help another person as she can, this time, Lucas. She tries to bond with him, but there is no success at all – she tries to visit his house, but leaves after hearing some strange noises from inside. Lucas seems to have some some mystery locked within his house, and also takes dead animals and birds to his home. He stays awake at night and makes strange drawings. Julia feels that she really needs to get to the bottom of this, and also informs her brother, who reaffirms that Frank was considered fit to be the guardian of the two children after the mother’s death – now, what would she do?

The defence of Antlers :: It can be seen that Antlers does take the deviation from the usual horror, and this divergence is taken seriously throughout its narrative – it lets the surroundings contribute to the same really well. The environment and the setting serve effectively for the movie too. The small town with its dark and wet weather really suits the situation presented around here, and there is enough of the woods to keep one going in the mood of terror. The idea of the “diabolic wickedness that devours humans”, the spirit that takes many forms, makes a powerful myth around here. There is also a connection made to the destruction of nature which the humans managed to come up with. One wouldn’t be able to blame the monsters considering how evil the humans happen to be at every point. We also have the moments of scares, and that gets stronger with the understanding that there is a seemingly unstoppable force of nature at work. Add the performance, especially from children, and things only get much darker and scarier in nature.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Antlers had the premise to be something greater, but doesn’t use the same to the best of advantage. We do see the moments which we feel could have been better. When you have such a near-unstoppable monster at the centre, there are many things that can be done – it could have surely been designed better too. The emotional side doesn’t seem to work that much, even though we are waiting for those elements to be effective too. The myth could have also been given a boost with certain elements from the past, and a history to be remembered. One can generate enough fear out of that too. The scope for sequel at the end seems to be forced, as if there was a certain need rather than anything else. One can feel the need to remind the viewer of a myth that goes missing, but that requires more of a better origins story with roots in a mysterious past – let the horror run through there too.

The performers of the soul :: Keri Russell has been among my favourite actresses from a long time ago – she carries a certain amount of charm with her roles, even though horror hasn’t been the genre we would remember her the most for. She would make it to the list of performers who don’t seem to age much as years pass. She blends in really well as this protagonist who has her own problems from childhood itself. Jesse Plemons supports her really well as the brother figure and the policeman. Jeremy T Thomas gets his moments as the struggling child who is forced to make too many decisions at such a young age. Scott Haze gets into the terrifying moments around here well. Sawyer Jones plays the other child of significance in a role which brings a fair challenge to him. Amy Madigan ends up having a smaller role to work with than what was expected. Rory Cochrane’s work is another thing of support here. The monster when shown, works as a performer by itself.

How it finishes :: Antlers keeps on moving the world of horror forward in a different path for a change, and the world of fear continues to make its points in one way or the other. One does feel that the Malayalam movie Odiyan could have learned a few things from this one with the creature attacks and the atmosphere to make it darker – if you see the looks, there seems to a visual connection. The earlier divergent horror movies like Malignant, Lights Out, It Follows and Don’t Breathe had scored better, but this one tries to make it count. Maybe, something like the creature in this movie is the need of environment itself to take care of the humans who are destroying nature as we have known it. Well, Corona virus did try, but they were not successful in getting rid of humanity and its use of science to destroy environment. It does make us feel that there can be the moment when nature can get it back running – The Blackout surely made us think about human extinction. Until something like that happens, let us enjoy this horror out of nature.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Theatre); 15th December 2021 (Hotstar)
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Come Play

Vampire Owl: Strange people calling us to play at this point of time. Why?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I think that they are the brain-repaired zombies.

Vampire Owl: So, zombies now have their brains repaired?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they manage the repair with the brains that they eat.

Vampire Owl: I am still not sure why they would want us to play with them though.

Vampire Bat: Well, they want our vampire brains for further repair.

Vampire Owl: In that case, I would tell them to find some of those evil humans.

Vampire Bat: Well, evil humans are easy to find. We can refer them directly.

Vampire Owl: Yes, almost every one among them qualifies as evil according to the definition.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies and humans meet each other soon enough through the next viral apocalypse.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: Oliver (Azhy Robertson) is an autistic boy who cannot talk either, and uses a smartphone so that he can communicate with people. One night, he finds an app on his mobile named “Misunderstood Monsters” which talks about the story of a monster named Larry who is different, and therefore nobody wants to be his friend, even though the only thing that the creature wants is friendship. He does have his own episodes of screaming at night, and his mother Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) has some tough time with it. She also feels that her husband and the child’s father Marty (John Gallagher Jr) is just not doing enough for the troubled child, as he is almost always working. Oliver is troubled by his classmates who don’t like him as he gets special treatment due his disabilities. They also try bullying him, and also takes away his mobile phone, throwing it into the field near the school. At the same time, the relationship between Sarah and Marty only gets worse.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah is not happy because she feels that Oliver only likes Marty, because he is the earning member of the family, and always brings the child the presents. As the tablet which Marty brought for him as a present identifies someone else with Oliver in the room with its face recognition software, there seems to be something wrong. The tablet actually starts talking to him using the same app which he was using to talk to others, and it identifies itself as Larry, who just wants to be a friend. As Marty who is bothered by Sarah’s talks finally decides to move out, the latter organizes a sleepover to help Oliver to become more social. But the chosen friends are the boys who had earlier bullied Oliver. Oliver hides the tablet as he is afraid of it, but the other boys find it, with a boy reading the story. It leads to Larry appearing, and things, as expected, can only get worse. But who would believe that Oliver is not responsible for all that is happening in house, and that there is a supernatural force at work?

The defence of Come Play :: There are some interesting scares added here and there in the movie, and some of them are more effective than the rest. The darkness and the sound effects are used well, as the visual effectiveness gets only better at the later stages of the film. The demon at work here is pretty good, and the idea that it can be seen in its original form through the tablet opens another dimension for horror very well. The idea of loneliness being spread through technology feels real, and as part of our present world. The demons from inside the technology – social media and the internet, mobile phones and laptops, they are all more real than ever. They might not be having an exact form these days, but they are present at all times, and even in the absence of the supernatural, the human evil shows its presence. Come Play’s monster can also be seen as a reflection of such evil humans, and the film also scores with a fine emotional side. It is not that easy to escape from such realistic monsters.

The claws of flaw :: Come Play could have added more effective creature horror rather than focusing more on those quick scares, and use of divergent creatures is nothing new, as we know from movies like Lights Out and It Follows. One does feel that something better could have been added with the creature detail, as better design only means the possibility of something better around here. With such a premise, it is not ready to take the risk, and that is surprising, because there was a lot that could be done with this particular monster. It could have gone beyond one family, and maybe it could have also had a background story – instead, we go for the safe zone with singular focus around here. An appearance of the monster at school, or at shops would have also been useful. The ending of the film also seems forced, and it doesn’t try to take a peek into the other dimension. All the build-up surely required more than this, as we look close here.

Performers of the soul :: Gillian Jacobs is very effective in becoming the motherly figure in a horror movie, and seemingly suiting the horror genre well. She is the one person who is there throughout the film as a mother who tries to understand, and is also the kind of person who would suit a horror film with younger cast, as she looks very much young. She does shine as the mother who has made some mistakes in the past, but does love her child and is ready to make all the sacrifices for him, as she also gets certain emotional moments which are of quality. John Gallagher Jr joins as the father figure well enough too. There are some moments for him too, especially with the creature making it to him. Azhy Robertson plays the child in trouble well, and Winslow Fegley plays his friend without much trouble. Some good performances from children also means that the horror story has better strength. The monster here is a fine performer all by himself, but a creature of electricity is surely capable of more – maybe the creature required a face too.

How it finishes :: Come Play might be a lesser known horror film in comparison to others, but is one effective work anyway. When children are involved, and when there is a monster from another dimension trying to come in through technology, one knows that this cannot be of lesser horror, especially with so many more people getting into technology due to the Corona virus pandemic and the related lock-down, work from home, schooling from home and more. Another film, Chathur Mukham has also dealt with the same thing, in Malayalam. Demons as part of technology can only get worse – we have watched Pretham and its sequel too. Let us have as many monsters are we need, because humans and the one virus spreading all over the world has made it much worse for the world. At least these monsters stick to a routine, but not those whom we see in real life. If you are looking for a similar movie with children and demons, you might also want to watch the Spanish film, Don’t Listen and the Korean one, The Closet.

Release date: 30th October 2020
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jacob Chase
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr, Azhy Robertson, Winslow Fegley, Rachel Wilson, Jayden Marine as Mateo, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Eboni Booth, Dalmar Abuzeid

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bali

Vampire Owl: I have heard that there is always a perfect time to begin something.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is time, and this will be the first Marathi film to be reviewed here.

Vampire Owl: Where does that leave us with the different language films being reviewed?

Vampire Bat: That would have us with more films than we had expected in the beginning of the year.

Vampire Owl: When they make a film with the name Bali, that is quite nostalgic, isn’t it?

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that Bali is open for international tourists yet.

Vampire Owl: Well, vampires are never international tourists.

Vampire Bat: We do come from a different realm, and so we are international.

Vampire Owl: So, we do have our own passports? I have never come across one.

Vampire Bat: Just use your fangs to make it work as required.

[Gets some banana chips and three glasses of chocolate shake].

What is the movie about? :: Shrikant Sathe (Swapnil Joshi), a widowed father is living his usual happy life as a happy single father with his only son Mandar Sathe (Abhishek Bachankar) who is a lot into playing cricket at school, and the father is completely in support of whatever he does. The father-son bond goes quite deep, and they are more or less like friends. Mandar also prefers to have his father with him all the time rather than his friends. When the seven year old boy faints during a cricket match, and is taken to hospital for a detailed diagnosis, things change. The two are referred to another hospital which has all the required facilities, and has a famous specialized department for children. They have an appointment with Radhika Shenoy (Pooja Sawant) who asks them to go for some more tests to make sure that there is no serious problem due to him having continuous breathing problems. Radhika feels that nothing could be wrong with the boy who looks alright, and the tests are just precaution.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Mandar meets a boy who is admitted in the hospital due to cancer, and is going through terrible pain in the stomach. They become good friends in a short period of time, and leaves the hospital’s main area to go to the deserted part of the hospital which is undergoing a certain amount of maintenance. They were supposed to play cricket and also meet the nurse whom the boy considered to be his mother, Elizabeth D’Souza (Shraddha Kaul). Soon, the boy is taken into a room in the abandoned area, and is found dead with many wounds and bruises on his body, and the doctors consider him to have fallen down and hurt. As he is admitted in the hospital as a result of seeing the dead boy in the operation theatre, Mandar starts talking to the mysterious nurse, and he also considers her as a mother-like figure whom he can contact at any point of time with a mobile which he discovers in the room. It turns out that there is something about the entity known as Elizabeth which the hospital hiding. Who is she, and what does she want?

The defence of Bali :: The film has just enough scares out here, and there is also one fine mystery to go with the same. There are also some nice twists around here to go with the horror. The background to the ghostly figure, even though becomes predictable at times, is nicely created with those twists added. The final moments’ twist is indeed a nice one, and the way it is presented is also nice. The movie also talks about a few things which have the possibility of happening in the medical field, and it does serve as a warning about the same, as greed for money is something which has taken over both the medical and educational field. Even though the latter can have other options, we are always tied to the requirements for medical treatment, and these types of revelations are often the need for the time, even though there is only a rare chance of the same happening. It never hurts to be warned about the terrible possibilities, and you know that the world around you doesn’t work on righteous, but on selfish requirements of money and fame.

The claws of flaw :: The name of the movie did give me a confusion, as I felt that there was something about the place in Indonesia, and maybe this film is about the place – obviously not knowing the language has its own confusion for us who are watching such films due to the release happening in Amazon Prime Video. It could have surely included more horror, and with the building being such a fine location and having the perfect atmosphere, it could have used the same to the best advantage. The message could have also been made more loud, and the background story could have had a longer time spent on the screen. The film also takes some time to get us interested enough, as the entity is often avoided rather than being scared of. Some of the moments here could have been straight to the point, and as far as ghosts are concerned, the one here could have surely had more here with its existence in the abandoned building. The ending can also feel to be a little bit rushed, instead of raising the level there.

Performers of the soul :: Swapnil Joshi plays the concerned father very well, and Abhishek Bachankar plays the child nicely, getting into the bond in a fine manner. The leading actor is the one who has to do all the work while dealing with the spirit, and in doing the same, he is surely at a fine level. In the end, it is Pooja Sawant who gains all the attention, as she plays a character who has her own secrets, and there is more to her than what is seen in the early stages of the film. Both the male and female lead are not those whom most of us who haven’t watched a Marathi movie are not familiar with, but we would love to see them in movies of other languages too. Rohit Kokate who plays another doctor has also done some solid work in support. It is difficult to connect the performers with roles for us, because enough information is not available anywhere, and we are not aware of the Marathi film industry. Yet, it can be safely said that the movie has pretty good performances from almost everyone, and this is a job well done in that case.

How it finishes :: Coming from the same director who came up with Chhorii, the film which had different ideas about horror, this one also has us interested early enough. Horror in India has always been struggling with its limitations, but this one has managed to rise over the same, and has even come up with a message, which reminds one of the Malayalam film, Joseph. This one has the eyes of horror set in the medical field, and a certain amount of greed and pride that takes the central stage in those private hospitals which are always looking for money and reputation to be at the top. Further talk about the same would reveal a little bit too much about the story and the twists which it is supposed to take, and therefore it is up to you to watch this one and understand more about it. After all, horror at a hospital can bring more than what meets the eye for us, and the spirits that live in any medical centre can be of further interest.

Release date: 9th December 2021
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Vishal Furia
Starring: Swapnil Joshi, Pooja Sawant, Pritam Kagne, Samarth Jadhav, Rohit Kokate, Sanjay Ranadive, Shraddha Kaul, Abhishek Bachankar, Mahesh Bodas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Swarm

Vampire Owl: I can feel the presence of some vampirism in here.

Vampire Bat: You are not talking about vampire locusts, are you?

Vampire Owl: Well, all kinds of vampiric creatures are welcome to our realm.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that locusts need any special welcome.

Vampire Owl: Everybody needs to be welcomed to the realm.

Vampire Bat: Except for the Corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Who is going to welcome a virus at this point?

Vampire Bat: We cannot be sure about that. Humans are crazy enough.

Vampire Owl: Humans can always be crazier.

Vampire Bat: You can trust them to do that every time.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Virginie Hebrard (Suliane Brahim) is a widowed mother who has been unsuccessfully raising locusts for proteins, and it is not something which brings her favourable returns. Their family used to have goats around earlier, and her children, Laura Hebrard (Marie Narbonne) and Gaston Hebrard (Raphael Romand) are pretty much embarrassed by the business of locusts, with people ridiculing the same, including people at their school. As the locusts are not active enough, and with a lower level of health and reproduction among the insects, the family struggles to go on. Soon, she becomes more and ore frustrated, as people wouldn’t buy the locusts at even lower rates. As she trashes the locust enclosure and passes out there, she finds out that locusts are eating from the wounds on her arm. Soon enough, she finds out that the locusts are now more active, and lets the locusts feed from her wounded arm.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Laura is not happy about how things have turned out though, as with everything going well out there and locusts doing better, they will have to continue to stay there. Her hope that they can finally sell the farm and get away from the place is no longer there. She tears open one of the greenhouses, leading for a swarm of locusts to escape. This escaped swarm would make sure that there would be enough supply of blood for them. That wouldn’t stop her from being more and more obsessed about the locusts. The need to feed them more blood comes to the picture, and she is ready to take further risks for the same. At the same time, all these affect her relationships with people around her, including her children. But is it too late for all of these to change now? How much more the locusts will take out of relationships and in the form of blood and flesh?

The defence of The Swarm :: The drama side of the movie is okay, even though they haven’t really tried too much with the characters. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through the movie, and most of the characters do have a certain amount of the same. There is just enough CGI and gore to keep the interest going. The setting is very much suitable for such a story, and we know that this is even more possible these during the time of Corona virus pandemic, where there is always mutation and people also get to live more alone than ever, facing even more financial crisis than ever. This is not a full insect attack movie, and people will have to remember that while choosing the same – for those who are looking for such full attack films, there are others from the second half of the twentieth century which was never short of such horror attacks from different creatures. Otherwise, you do watch this one as a drama with some insect horror added.

The claws of flaw :: A problem with this particular movie is that it losses its power as a thriller and horror flick, and gives in to the drama all the time – whenever there is a chance to make this one a horror thriller, it goes down to the state of a common drama about a widowed mother looking forward to make a living by farming. Well, a single mother with two children and financial struggles always make drama rise over any other elements of any genre. There could have been more interesting moments related to locust horror, or at least have some connection to science fiction. The characters and their relationships are also not that much explored, especially that of the daughter who could have had some life at the campus, even if not a positive one. It is certainly not what you expect when you go to watch the film, and the ending is also not that strong by any means. You can see some horror ready to go through the rails, but there is never the green flag, as we see a hesitation to let it go, while the movie slows down and drags at times.

Performers of the soul :: Suliane Brahim handles the role of the widowed mother in grief, trying to make her business do better, quite well. The attraction and the later obsession to the locusts which are shown by her, has something unique about it, even though it should have had more terrifying images than she presenting her body to feed for the insects in between – imagine the amount of horror which just that idea could have brought, but has been missed. Marie Narbonne is a lovely addition to the movie, and she plays the confused younger sister who hopes that things can get better if they leave the locust farm and home attached to it. The melancholy that she goes through is reflected on her face at almost all times, and the way she looks at people even with smiles, reflects a certain amount of sadness. Raphael Romand’s character remains a memorable one too. The one character who stands apart is Sofian Khammesas’s, as he plays the man who is always willing to help, a rare one during this age without faith.

How it finishes :: It is still a thing of wonder that this movie doesn’t redeem itself with thrills and horror when there was so much of an opportunity. While the drama goes on, the other elements lag, even though we feel that it scores a family adventure throughout most of its stages. It is the kind of movie which has the elements to confuse us about the genre in which it stays. One would feel that it could have worked even without focusing on the locusts, and maybe even after replacing them. It would have done fine enough by growing some of the more common things in the farm, as we look at them. On another day, this could be a full-horror movie with insect attacks, a thriller which has a family hunted, or a science fiction flick with mutated insects bringing something further terrifying. But it chooses to focus on the drama, and it suits one kind of audience much more than the others. As we are now in fear of the next mutation of the virus and wonders if everything has to go back to lockdown again, enjoy this one outside the theatres.

Release date: 1st August 2020
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Just Philippot
Starring: Suliane Brahim, Sofian Khammes, Marie Narbonne, Raphael Romand, Nathalie Boyer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Meander

Vampire Owl: I remember having met an elf with a similar name.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is certainly not a fantasy movie.

Vampire Owl: Elves are as real as we are. None of us are fantasy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for humans, we are all fantasy elements.

Vampire Owl: The girl on the poster does look very much real.

Vampire Bat: You surely cannot say the same about her surroundings.

Vampire Owl: The poster here doesn’t seems to mean anything.

Vampire Bat: It could be a reflection of the useless lives that the humans lead.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the terrible mindset that they have, what else can they do?

Vampire Bat: They could always choose to be extinct and save the planet and the other life forms that live without hate.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lisa (Gaia Weiss) who works as a waiter is seen lying in the middle of a road in the countryside until a car arrives from a distance. She starts walking, but the man in the car, Adam (Peter Franzen) who works as a night watchman offers her a lift, as there is nobody nearby, and there is no hope of finding civilization soon enough. They seem to get along well enough, and Lisa is disappointed about her daughter’s death – she realizes that the girl would have been nine years old on that day if she was alive. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through her, and she hopes that she could die one day and unite with he daughter again. It is then that it turns out that the man who is with her is a murderer, and the police is in search of him, as she realizes the same from the news on the radio. But the realization comes a little late, as he slams her head against the dashboard of the car, leaving her motionless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Lisa wakes up in a small room which seems to have no way out. She is clothed in a strange suit which tightly fits her body, and a strange light-emitting device is attached to her wrist. Later, a door on the side opens and reveals a narrow tunnel through which she crawls with great difficulty, and the door closes right behind her, leaving her trapped inside on her all fours. She has no option, but to continue crawling, trying to find and exit which could lead her to freedom. The device on her wrist also seems to have a timer and alarm, as it seems to remind her of time running out, as she has to go squeeze through extremely narrow passages, as she moved towards light. As the roof of the tunnel comes down, almost catching her buttocks stuck within, that would be only the first of the challenges that she would have to overcome, soon to be followed by a rotten body, water, acid and others.

The defence of Meander :: Almost whole of the movie has just one setting around here, and it has also dealt with the same effectively. There are some fine traps in here, and the more terrifying thing is that they are all within a crawlspace, with the chance of escape being really minute – I wouldn’t give most of us any chance with this, but we root for the lady in distress here, as we are more confident about her getting through, even though not as much as Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider would. Here, in between, we come to know that there is more to all of these than what meets the eye, and that there is something beyond our comprehension, most probably supernatural or paranormal at work. The same is revealed in the end, and it means that we have further scope for a sequel here. After all, this kind of a premise, like that of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, even though lesser in grandeur, can have many different paths to follow. The mysterious feeling never really leaves us.

The claws of flaw :: Meander is surely not the usual kind of a movie, and it goes divergent from even any other possible film who can deal with a similar circumstance. It doesn’t have much more than what it provides here, and leaves us with minimal settings. People who don’t wish to see one person trying to fight it all to make the way out of a long crawlspace won’t find this one to be of their type. Even though this is supposed to be science fiction, the same type of elements show less of a presence around here. We also feel that this could have been better, more direct in what it does, because you know how these have worked really well with the video games. There could have been direct ideas provided here, and even though there could be symbolism being connected here, there is not much that we can use directly. We do have many films with one actor getting all the focus, and others being almost absent – Sunny is a recent example, and this one could have done more with the one character other than the trap escape acts.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has only two actors, and it is more or less about Gaia Weiss, who is there for the whole of the movie, and works through it very all, as her character keeps trying to survive against all odds. She nicely fits in here, and one would feel that if there is a full action film coming soon, she could be right in there, doing a great job. She plays the character that has do the impossible, and she does some fantastic work as the one person who goes through all of these. To add to it, there is also an emotional side to her character, which is also portrayed well. Peter Franzen also has some work to do, but he has a very less time on the screen. Basically, we can say that everything is left to Gaia, and she becomes the sole pillar on which the movie depends on, as far as performances are concerned. She never looks like she is going to lag with that much of a weight on her. Not many people could have handled the same so well too.

How it finishes :: Meander makes a fine French movie that has different elements coming together even with almost everything set in one particular place. It is all about survival, set in a seemingly difficult situation, much scarier than The Shallows where we know the enemy, and much hopeless than The Platform in which there was at least the certainty of food and a possible companionship. Unlike the rest which has some hope for its protagonists, this one is at an advanced level of leaving almost no chance to survive, like a hopeless level of The Maze Runner. As a film which gives you claustrophobia, this one is surely an experiment which you might want to remember for long. As the lady moves through this particular crawlspace world, you are into some slow and effective moments of thrills, unlike the ones that we usually see elsewhere. It is that tale of survival which once again has the protagonist fighting against all odds, and we are all hoping for her to survive.

Release date: 11th October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Gaia Weiss, Peter Franzen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Home

What is the movie about? :: Oliver Twist (Indrans) is leading a normal life with his two sons, Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Nalsen K Gafoor), his wife Kuttiyamma (Manju Pillai) and father (Kainakary Thankaraj) who has memory problems. Oliver and Kuttiyamma are also feeling the problems of their old age. Antony is trying to be successful in the film field, but he is too busy with social media that he doesn’t complete the climax of the script, much to the dismay of the producer, Baby (Maniyanpilla Raju) who keeps asking if something can be done about it. His time is running out, as it has been two years after he started writing – he had directed his first film to a grand success, and this time, nobody is sure that he will finish it in time. At the same time, Charles’ interest in social media only, and nothing else is on his list of interesting things. He keeps putting Instagram stories at all times, and during the rest of the time, he is mostly sleeping.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Finally, Antony decides to return home to finish his script, and for the same, he returns home with a seven day deadline to complete his script. There he finds out that Charles is vlogging at all times, and doing nothing else. His life is highly digitalized, and he is happy to keep himself online instead of talking to anyone in the family. Antony is no different, even though his parents remember that he used to be a different person before leaving them for the city. Antony is in love with Priya (Deepa Thomas), a relationship which has lasted very long, but now he is too bust to return her calls. Her father, Joseph Lopez (Srikanth Murali) is a very rich and influential man, popular at all places. Oliver hopes to be friendly with his sons, but they don’t have that much of an interest in talking to the elders. Often, they even ignore Oliver as if he is not a part of their life. Oliver hopes that things will change, and he goes on with his life, with that wish, but Antony has very low opinion about him, and is often hostile towards him too.

The defence of Home :: There are many things which are reflections of real life incidents in the film, and one often wonders if they have come across such incidents before. Social media addiction has been an effective theme, and these days, anyone is a vlogger on Youtube, and with many followers, they think that this is life. People have been bothered more about what happens online rather than offline, and in the same the real world is forgotten, a reflection of the same is reflected here. The message about mobile phones stealing our valuable time is also provided nicely. It adds a few things about loss of relationships and health due to the use of smartphones and social media among the youth. The film, even though set most in a home and its surroundings, is visually too good, not just inside the house, but also during the outside moments. There is a lot of beauty on the screen that surrounds everything, and occasional humour adds on well. Then, there is the ending that conquers all, emotionally as strong as it could be.

The claws of flaw :: There is a lot of repetition which happens in the film, and it is surely a slow work, as we look at it. Some of the emotions are added here and there as if it was just there for the sake of it, and some incidents just become random part of the same. This comes from the man behind Philips and the Monkeypen and Jo and the Boy, and we can see similar elements being repeated here. It still doesn’t have the charm or quality of the former, which was one of the best movies released in the year, seemingly bringing a certain amount of magic to the screen. It also has its length extended a little too much, and with too many songs being added here and there, it does feel a few minutes too long. There are moments in between when we feel that this was going nowhere nowhere, and it was going to go on with the same kind of thing again and again. There are so many things coming up, and often it does seem to miss the main point, but there is the ending that brings things together.

Performers of the soul :: Indrans was earlier seen in two very serious roles this year with two films, Malik and Yuvam, playing the roles of a police officer and an advocate respectively. This one is a light-hearted, but yet emotional role for him, and having come out of fully comic roles, he has been doing this really well. This is indeed a very heartfelt performance from him, and with him at the centre of a family movie, this will be remembered as he celebrate forty years in Malayalam cinema industry, in his 341st movie in the long career. We are finally able to see him throughout a mainstream film in the lead role, and also with the most emotional touch, as he basically lives through here. Sreenath Bhasi had some very serious roles in Virus and Kumbalangi Nights not too long ago, and he now has a rather lighter version here – he had come out of that earlier “freakan” image a long time ago, and this one has him in a controlled role. Nalsen K Gafoor who was last seen in Kuruthi with all the seriousness, and earlier in Thanneermathan Dinangal with all the humour, can be seen in a realistic role of a youngster in this film, and he once again scores big. The simple comic side that he adds here brings more life to the movie.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also nice to Manju Pillai having a good role to play in a film, as we have been seeing more in the television series and comedy shows of Mazhavil Manorama. She has blended into this role really well, and one would wonder why she was not that much in similar roles before. We have always loved to watch her in Thatteem Mutteem for a long time. There are also some nice dialogues that reflects the mood of the film. Deepa Thomas has her first leading role, and she has comes up with a memorable performance too. She has indeed provided a natural performance, and we look forward to seeing her in more roles, and with more screen space in comparison to what is seen here. Srikant Murali also has a role to remember here. Anoop Menon’s act is also a good one, while Maniyanpilla Raju also drops in here and there. Vijay Babu’s role might seem very small, but is still one role that also makes a difference, with a lovely touch of humour. Johny Antony, as usual adds more humour here, while KPAC Lalitha who comes in the final stages of the movie has something special to add. Priyanka Nair also has a fine role in the flashback.

How it finishes :: Home is a movie for the present families, which are not short of this kind of a situation at different homes, due a new generation of kids who are addicted to gadgets and moving away from parents both physically and mentally. It will be remembered for some moments for the heart. The feel-good elements from the director’s earlier films can be seen reflected here, and the same kind of reflections can be seen visually too. Vijay Babu has provided us with so many of similar movies, and we have always stayed close to most of them. During COVID-19 times, having a feel-good film to watch with family was always going to be good. The messages that the film provides are effective, and leads to that one final message which raises the level of the film. Do look out for the final scenes with credits too, and it is where the movie brings a little more for the soul. So, we have our Onam movie on Amazon Prime Video, and as you watch the same, I wish you a Very Happy Onam in advance!

Release date: 19th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakary Thankaraj, Naslen K Gafoor, Manju Pillai, Deepa Thomas, Vijay Babu, Srikant Murali, Johny Antony, Anoop Menon, Maniyanpilla Raju, Aju Varghese

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sara’s

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Anna Ben) needs to get many things right, and making a name in the film field is only one of them. She has her own set of beliefs, and is not ready to step away from them, no matter the cost happens to be. From her school days itself, she was afraid of having a child, and she maintains that aversion throughout her life. She is bothered by her father Vincent’s (Benny P Nayarambalam) constant requests to get a boyfriend, without which they will come up with a match themselves. It is then that she meets Jeevan (Sunny Wayne), who had left his job in Bangalore and returned home, presently taking care of his sister’s children. When the two meet later, they are united by their lack of interest in having children, and decide to fall in love. They feel that there is a connection between them, and the two decide to wait for a few years before they marry – she hopes that she can study him well during that time, and also get her new movie going.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Their world consists of only the two of them, and they hope to keep it the same without any unwanted trouble. But when their parents come to know about the relationship, things don’t go that smoothly. They are forced to get married too soon, but the two decide to go with the flow without resisting the same. Sara continues to try and get her script accepted by a producer willing to let her direct the film. At the same time, Jeevan goes back to job again. Sara is disappointed by her inability to convince the producers, but things get only worse for her when she gets pregnant. All the relatives come to know about it, and their happiness is only matched by Sara’s disappointment. She hasn’t changed a bit as far as her ideology about children is concerned, even though Jeevan is now not sure. The equations have changed now, and what they had thought earlier might not work any longer.

The defence of Sara’s :: There can always be something about feel-good movies, and that something is carried over here too, with the feeling being too good. Jude Anthany Joseph’s mastery over the same is something on which everybody would agree. The emotional side is strong, and the light-hearted elements with the usual touch of humour works really well here. The reflections of the usual life and the disagreements between generations can also be seen in the flick. It is to be noted that the light-hearted feeling is maintained throughout the film, and it never slips away from the same during its two hours of seemingly perfect run-time, even though it deviates a little bit. As a female centered film, the protagonist does have more to tell you than what meets the eye. There is the requirement to understand that the purpose of marriage is not to have children as soon as you are married, and that parenthood is a responsibility for which everyone has to be prepared well. When people have children in less than an year after marriage, and when they choose to keep having more and more of kids almost every year, it is strange. There is always an intellectual purpose in life as far as humans are concerned, and it is being left behind by these people, both men and women. This film should be an awakening for them, as well as for those who marry early, without maturity coming to them. In India, as more the youth is more dependent on parents it takes them about twenty eight to thirty three years old to be really mature. It is surprising to see some people getting married at the age of twenty one and eighteen, and the recent cases on suicides in the name of domestic violence and dowry were all from those who married too early, especially without the women not being allowed to complete their studies or work freely.

The claws of flaw :: Sara’s could have been more with its ideas, and there was also a chance to add more of light-hearted comedy with those usual kind of situations. You are never really short of some feel-good ideas in our world, and chances for humour were many, but not many of them are taken. It often struggles to make comedy out of silly stuff. The movie should have actually released one day earlier during the weekend, and it would have had more viewers due to the weekend lock-down being imposed, and this flaw in release date will decrease its viewers by a considerable number. These are the kind of choices which make sure how many people watch the film from an OTT platform. Also expectations after Jude Anthany Joseph’s previous movies were very high, and this one has to match that, but this one is more about the ups and downs. This one is certainly not that much fun in comparison with the earlier films, and we also have a little bit more of an emotional side at work here. The final moments seem to have gone for the quick solution, instead of making things innovative. The film is also too materialistic in its viewpoint with main characters going for the selfish motive, the kind which won’t hesitate to cheat and murder if needed, and its heroine wouldn’t be ideal in a morality tale, but as she is shown as a person interested only in films, maybe she is more of a reflection of people in who are part of movies rather than common people. After all, it is difficult for the protagonist to understand that she is not an island, but it is to be noted that the people around her matches her in being judgmental.

Performers of the soul :: With his third venture which seems to resemble the earlier successful works from him, it is Jude Anthany Joseph who has our attention here, more than the main actors and actresses of this film, and it is with high expectations that we are watching this particular flick. The work of Anna Ben remains the same, natural, and perfectly suited for a role like this. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen had her realistic acting skills bringing some surprise to us. This time, we are having exactly what we expected from here, and one more natural performance brings us an lovable film. She is the one actress who makes the perfect new generation star who blends in so well with the roles given to her. Benny P Nayarambalam, Anna’s real-life father plays her father in the film too, and that is indeed a nice addition to the movie. Siddique is also there, and you know what to expect when the veteran actor is once again there, and doing his usual stuff – he has more or less become an integral part of the feel-good Malayalam movies of these times.

Further performers of the soul :: Sunny Wayne is here in a film which is not centered on him, but that comes as no surprise to him, as he was the hero in Annmaria Kalippilaanu, but was not the protagonist there too. He was very good in the earlier supporting roles, and with different roles like the villain in Kayamkulam Kochunni and the surprise entry in June, he is known for these kind of roles more than for being the sole hero in flicks like Alamara and a number of lesser known ones. Before this film, we had him everywhere with that song “Kaamini” in Anugraheethan Antony due to the producers of Chathur Mukham failing to bring it to OTT platforms at a time when films like Cold Case, Drishyam 2, Mohan Kumar Fans, Nizhal, The Priest, Aarkkariyam and Joji scored so high in Amazon Prime Video, Nayattu in Netflix and Kho Kho with Operation Java in ZEE 5. It is also good to see Mallika Sukumaran going through her usual kind of work, and we also see others who have much less to do in here, even though they all form a part.

How it finishes :: This is the third film of Jude Anthany Joseph after Ohm Shanthi Oshaana and Oru Muthassi Gadha, both of those movies being excellent feel-good entertainers, and the former had also won the Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value at the 45th Kerala State Film Awards, as well as making sure that Nazriya Nassim earned a Best Actress Award too. So, this one certainly came with high expectations, especially considering the fact that Anna Ben is a more complete actress in comparison to those who were part of his earlier ventures. The expectations do provide some good results here, as Sara’s is indeed a movie to watch without having too much of the emotional feeling while dealing with similar topics and its light-hearted take on the usual kind of stuff and with a desire for change in the attitudes of the society makes it an interesting watch during these days which still continue have a certain kind of COVID-19 lock-down restrictions going on here and there. Therefore, the audience of all age groups can give it a chance.

Release date: 5th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Anna Ben, Sunny Wayne, Dominic Arun, Siddique, Srindaa, Margret Antony, Siju Wilson, Dhanya Varma, Benny P Nayarambalam, Mallika Sukumaran, Prasanth Nair

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Demon Eye

Vampire Owl: This was the name of that artifact which the northern witches used.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that they were in contact with the demons?

Vampire Owl: Well, aren’t they supposed to be so?

Vampire Bat: They are usually in contact with those who rise from the grave.

Vampire Owl: Well, this is just one portal away from that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but the demons are not really the undead in any way.

Vampire Owl: You do have something against some popular demons.

Vampire Bat: No, I am not talking about those tik-tok using humans.

Vampire Owl: At least, that episode is over for now.

Vampire Bat: You should know that demons, the masters of hell are not to be treated without extreme care.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sadie (Kate James) haven’t been in good terms with her father John (Darren Day) for a long time, and never really picks up his call, until one day, she decides to do just that. But she hears some stranhe noise from his room, and he quickly cuts the call, citing an emergency. This is the last time when Sadie sees her father, and the next thing he knows about him is that he is dead. Much to everyone’s surprise, he is supposed to have committed suicide by hanging. This forces Sadie to come back to the house, which is in a remote location, and has nobody else to take over the same. There she meets the man with whom the house keys were left with, Dan (Robert Hamilton), and Sadie feels strange to be at that house which has her old dolls and cameras being set in every room, corridor and staircase. Dan also leaves a job for her in a newspaper, passed on to her by her father who had worked there until his death.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is immediately hired at the newspaper as a photographer, and finds Dan in an awkward position with Faye (Ellie Goffe) who is supposed to be his fiancee. Dan and Sadie get their first assignment to interview Craig (Liam Fox), a local man who is supposed to have seen The Burning Girl (Alannah Marie) – it was part of a folklore which was supposed to have become reality for some people. There is the legend of the Demon Eye that goes with it, as a girl was burned as a witch a long time ago in the name of causing a famine which she had predicted with the help of an amulet some time ago. But on the way, she sees a fire and a person standing in it, and as she tries to take a photo, the battery goes down. Even while interviewing, she gets into a fight with the man whom she was supposed to interview. She is confused about all the information she had managed to get from different people about her father who she hated. Is there a secret to be unveiled in relation to her father’s death?

The defence of Demon Eye :: We have been falling short of some interesting horror movies, and then this one comes up. It is that movie which deals with its subject in a slightly different way, and the subject itself has more than one angle to take care of. The quick scares are all there, and the most effective one is with a severed head in the bath-tub, then there are hands coming from under the bed, hellish hound kind of thing and the usual burned face with all the creepiness that it can have. The length of the movie is also less in comparison, not going to even ninety minutes, and it does make the most of it, with not having much from the dull moments there. The atmosphere is also good, with a setting in the middle of nowhere, with vast landscapes inspiring dark folktales all around. There is always something about focusing on the folklore, whether it is real or not. This setting will impress you, and with moments to remember, makes its point really well.

The claws of flaw :: Among the horror movies these days, Demon Eye is the one which is rather less known, or not known at all at this part of the world. It should have still achieved more with the premise – you know that with the title itself and also with the idea which is being explored here. Whenever there is a demon involved, you can take it further with ease. The demons might have been less scary in comparison to pandemics, but they are not yet completely out of the equation. We have so many moments which could have been something bigger, but manages to adjust with what it has, not trying to raise the bar. The effects of the low budget are there too, even though they have partially overcome that. The ending of the movie also felt a little rushed, because a horror movie like this requires something bigger, and the case of the climax is also the same. The main character also required to make more out of the situations here.

Performers of the soul :: Kate James plays the protagonist in this movie, even though IMDb hasn’t really listed here at the top, or with a photo. Even though there is some struggle in the beginning stages, she plays the character really well, and only gets better in the later stages. She is part of almost every scary scene in this movie, and the best one is that of the bath-tub with the severed head, even though more could have been done with a character like hers. Her portrayal of the troubled character who need psychiatric help from the early stages is believable, without being melodramatic. The other actors don’t seem to try too hard, but manages to hold on. She is way ahead in that case, when we look closely. The other young lady in the movie is the next person to catch our attention, even though she is not there for too long on the screen – Ellie Goffe does a very good job too. Robert Hamilton, Darren Day and Liam Fox, all of them manage just enough here.

How it finishes :: There are always some interesting horror movies of interest, if we keep checking for them. Demon Eye can be on the list too, depending on your preferences, even though you can’t expect it to do too much with its content. This is the kind of horror movie which you watch on Friday nights for some fun scares, and for that purpose, this film is successful, leaving no doubts behind. With a fine premise, from a situation in which things could have gone much worse, the movie takes itself back to make sure that as a whole, it is a pretty good work. There might be a few things left unexplained though, but through the same, it leaves the scope for a sequel, even as we are not really supposed to expect one, considering the response it had received otherwise. Do add this to your horror collection, as one more demon, this time with another witch-hunting past, will bring the entertainment to you.

Release date: 26th April 2019
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Simons
Starring: Darren Day, Liam Fox, Kate James, Ellie Goffe, Jimmy Allen, Alannah Marie, Robert Hamilton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

Vampire Owl: These humans often refer us by this name.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is clearly wrong, as we are not in a wretched condition yet.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans are in a more wretched situation now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the Corona Virus has gotten into them pretty badly.

Vampire Owl: I believe that they have always been wretched enough.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t say that for every one of them.

Vampire Owl: You have always been too kind of the humans.

Vampire Bat: And you have always been the cruel one.

Vampire Owl: Nobody in the known world are as cruel and wicked as the humans.

Vampire Bat: Now, this is something you don’t even say about the werewolves or zombies.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young girl names Megan (Sydne Mikelle) has a babysitting duty, only to find a creature feeding off the little girl, and as she tries to escape, it seems that Megan also meets a similar end in the hands of the demonic creature. Later we see Ben (John-Paul Howard), a youngster joining his father Liam (Jamison Jones), as his parents are in the middle of having a mutually agreed divorce. Ben gets to work in the local harbour in the countryside with his father on a temporary basis. At the same time, Liam is getting too close to his co-worker, Sara (Azie Tesfai) while Ben becomes good friends with a local girl working there, named Mallory (Piper Curda). Ben also can’t stop himself from noticing their new neighbours, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). They do get lost in the woods, and Dillon gets called by a tree into the hole underneath, but they do manage to bring home a deer which their car had hit and killed, much to the dismay of Abbie’s husband Ty (Kevin Bigley). She tries to cut the animal for a dish, but messes it up.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, we see that a certain creature is coming out of the body of the deer through the cut which was made earlier, and Ben also sees something sitting on the rails of Abbie’s home – seemingly human, but something else in reality. It does disappear when the light goes off, but makes appearances inside the house of Abbie. Ben tries to mingle with the young people in the neighbourhood with a party, but is publicly embarrassed by the most desired girl of the locality JJ (Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden). As he returns home, he finds Abbie walking into the woods with her toddler, but is interrupted by Liam and Sara, leading to a dispute. Even though Abbie returns from the woods, she doesn’t seem to be the same. It doesn’t seem to be the usual trouble that haunts the small town, as there is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a force beyond one’s understanding, and if someone tries to solve the case, that person might be considered a lunatic. How many lives will be lost before such an evil vanquished?

The defence of The Wretched :: There is no doubt about this particular movie’s ability to score with the ambiance, as the setting as well as the neighbourhood where the people are living, can all be considered to be very much perfect. We have the small town where people are denying the existence of evil, but there has always been one in the woods, and a tree has been central to everything. To get to the depth of this evil, we have even more twisted ideas in there, and more of terrifying suspense will be revealed in the end. There are also some scares to support the same, and the nature around the place is indeed beautiful. It is more or less like a dark fairy-tale, as there are elements of a dark fantasy which runs right through. The characters are the kind of people whom you can relate to, and that makes the transformation caused by the witch feel even more real. After all, it is always nice to be taken back to the idea of that witch who used to haunt us during the childhood and reached as far as The Witch – until you had the older version of Evil Dead to scare you in the best possible way.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the movie does try to have a little too much than a regular witch story, which doesn’t always work in its favour. The mixture doesn’t make the best use of its elements, especially as there are so many things which a witch possessing a lady or two can do. The terror could have had even stranger forms, and it also takes some time to make one feel the seriousness of the same. Some scenes are also not needed, even in a movie which goes just above one and half hours. Some people can even find this movie to be confusing in parts, and the creepy poster doesn’t come up in there, which is also disappointing. The mask does come though, and just like the other elements related to the witch, there could have surely been more. The ending has also been left open, maybe for a sequel, but that would need more, and not just the type of material that we have here. There are also some characters who could have done more – some are just left not explored well enough, and we feel the need to see them more.

Performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that the main characters are driven by a terrifying feeling – if you die, and nobody remembers you, where you really alive? That existential crisis is first discovered by John-Paul Howard who plays Ben well enough, but the truth is that it is not just his neighbour who has forgotten his son, as the darker secrets are there to make him realize the terror further. He plays the curious youngster who understands things happening around better than the others, and he does that well. At the same time, Piper Curda remains very cute and brings a lot of charm to the movie – not your usual leading actress, she brings a few joyful moments here and there in what really is a dark movie as it progresses. Zarah Mahler is really good as the young lady next door who is possessed by the witch, as she makes some really scary appearances, and there are scenes with her skin ripping off, which takes it to another level. Azie Tesfai with that deer-skull mask on her face is joy to watch, even though it is only for a short period of time to make a good enough bad witch. Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden could have been there for more though.

How it finishes :: We have always had the supernatural creatures running around in different movies, but the witches have always struggled to keep it going in comparison to vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures of the dark who have been competing well with the demons and ghosts. But The Wretched does manage to bring some of such interest back to us during these days, as the witch gets her due, without a broomstick, staying close to an evil tree in the forest. It has enough surprises in there to keep the whole thing going, and with such a setting to help its cause, The Wretched is sure to take you to a world of forest’s witches whom we have known since childhood. You can always expect more, but this is indeed a good beginning to a type of horror cinema which hasn’t made that much of success in comparison to the others. After all, elves and similar creatures of light are not the only ones you keep finding in the middle of the forest.

Release date: 19th July 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Karen Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.